Protecting Backup Solutions From Threats and Vulnerabilities 

As we have recently hit the end of the financial tax season and concluded some of the busy periods companies endure for selling their product or service, this is the time of year when many organizations reevaluate their business continuity and disaster recovery plans. While they likely consider natural disasters and political events that could halt their operations, one area that needs to be assessed is cybersecurity. 

The war in Ukraine and threat trends overall have caused increased use of cyber warfare worldwide — targeting small, mid-sized, and enterprise-level businesses here in the United States. Organizations need to prepare themselves for worst-case scenarios with their technology and data assets by developing strategies to deal with crises. 

Within an organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans should be a backup solution to recover their data, applications, and servers. While most businesses understand this, they often fail to realize that constructing a security program around the backup is just as important as securing their primary technology resources and systems. 

Therefore, when planning for these scenarios or any crisis management situation, businesses need to secure their backup with the same attention and resources as if it were a primary production environment. 

Why Does Securing Your Backup Matter? 

First and foremost, investing in a robust backup solution for sensitive files, personally identifiable information, servers, and critical communications is an essential cybersecurity defense tactic in itself. Data trends show that 37% of businesses were hit by ransomware in 2021. Of those, 57% were able to recover their data using a backup system compared to the other outcomes such as paying the ransom or losing their data altogether. 

However, just having a safety net is insufficient and needs to be supplemented with security controls. As mentioned previously, organizations don’t tend to even think about securing the backup, which has made those systems vulnerable and ideal targets for cybercriminals and hacking groups. In fact, one recent study showed that as high as 21% of ransomware attacks target backup systems. 

To a hacker, even the data resources acting as “reserves” are valuable and, in most cases, more accessible. Once they get in, they can steal important company information and sell it on the dark web or directly shut down the system until a ransom payment is made. No matter the circumstances, protection is key to ensuring a smooth disaster recovery process in the most catastrophic situations. 

So how do you secure your backup? 

How to Secure Your Backup 

Regardless of how your infrastructure is constructed, what type of resources you’re protecting, or which controls you use, a backup security strategy should be fully incorporated into your cybersecurity program and disaster recovery plan. You’ll find that many security controls for your primary resources can also be applied to your backup systems. Some of these solutions include the following:  

Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) would offer that additional layer of security if a hacker were to acquire credentials to your backup service. In addition to (or as a substitution for) a password, another factor such as a biometric or piece of hardware can authenticate someone’s identity. MFA should be applied to anyone with access to the backup system – especially if they are a system administrator or have advanced privileges.

Practice Responsible Password Management 

Designing and securely storing complex passwords will prevent password-sourced attacks such as keystroke logging or brute force algorithms. Users and admins should also change their passwords frequently to create a “moving target.” This is especially important if you’re using a cloud-based or remote-sourced backup system that uses these credentials as the primary verification method. 

Limit System Access Only to Necessary Users 

The more people with access to your backup, the higher chance you can compromise those systems. More users mean a higher likelihood of potentially negligent acts occurring and increased possible threats from internal actors. Limit the number of admins for your backup solution and practice the principle of least privilege as part of your security planning. 

Another way to limit access for your backup is practicing the zero-trust network access (ZTNA) strategy. Part of the zero-trust framework, this solution can apply to critical, production, and backup environments. It provides users secure remote access only to specific applications and resources through very defined access control policies. This strategy’s combination of technologies and methods is very applicable to today’s work-from-home environments.  

Separate and Secure Your Backup System 

Be sure to utilize firewalls on the servers where your backups are housed. For hard drive backups, try to keep it geographically separated from your central systems so that environmental or natural disasters can’t wipe out both of them at once. Furthermore, implement physical security controls like cameras, fencing, locks, and alarm systems to prevent on-premise data theft incidents.  

Ensure Backed Up Data is Encrypted 

As a last layer of defense, encrypt your backups so that if someone gains unauthorized access, they can’t view or alter the stored data. Use this control for files, folders, and media to give you and your business peace of mind knowing that a hacker’s initiatives are rendered useless without the decryption key. 

Secure Your Backup with Ascension Global Technology 

Your backup system is essential to disaster recovery, yet just another entry point cybercriminals can compromise. Contact us today to speak to an expert and learn about how you can establish and secure your backup systems. Also, be sure to check out our blog for updated news and insights on the world of cybersecurity.    

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"AGT" offers complete end-to-end security protection through technology tools, cybersecurity strategy, consulting, and project management services. From addressing specific security gaps to a full environment cybersecurity strategy. With services designed to improve any organization’s overall organizational security posture, AGT develops strategies to implement and deploy successful cybersecurity solutions to protect companies from data and financial loss.